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Dino Cliffs Trail
Connections to Church Rocks and Prospector

The Dino Cliffs Trail is a singletrack route along the low red cliffs just north of Washington. The trail itself is short (1.8 miles), but you must ride dirt road to get there. The ride is 4.3 miles as a loop and about the same as an out-and-back. 

View of the cliffs above the western end of the trail. Photos by Bruce, April 17, 2009, with help from faithful trail dog Jackie.

Total climbing is around 300 feet, with lowest altitude 3000 feet. The ride is intermediate technical with a few short advanced spots, but the eastern end is easy and suitable for beginners. The easiest access is right off the new Washington Parkway I-15 exit.

 

Perhaps more important to riders in St.George, the trail provides a fun dirt-and-rock route from city streets to the Church Rocks Loop and the Prospector Trail. You can leave your house or motel on bicycle and ride all the way to Silver Reef.

View along the Grapevine Trail (really a road). The beginning of Dino Cliffs is right in the middle of the photo, where the rock edge meets the roadway. The corner in the road at mid-right is where the connector to Church Rocks and Prospector forks off.

First, let's talk about beginners. From the Grapevine trailhead, you can ride an easy mile of dirt road (see photo), then fork left to head west on Dino Cliffs. Ride south until you start to hit stuff that makes you nervous (or walk through the tricky spots), then head back. The first 0.6 miles of Dino Cliffs is about the easiest slickrock you'll ever ride. Nice 3.2-mile out-and-back with the kids.

The loop ride I describe below is a counter-clockwise trip including Grapevine, Dino Cliffs, and a dirt road return. (Some of the dirt-road area is plumbed with sewer for future development, so let me know when I need to update my ride plan!) 

The trail flows over smooth Navajo sandstone, with views south of Washington and the surrounding hills and mesas. To the north are views of the tall volcanic Pine Valley Mountains.

The official Dino Cliffs Trail has 0.1 mile of steep deep sand at the west end. I use the official route in my ride description, but here's the thing: I didn't see a single tire-print on that section. Seems most people were heading up/down the wash that's at the bottom of that long sandy hill. I haven't included that option in my map or track file since it's not a sanctioned route.

View of typical trail section on the eastern third - easy riding!

And let's quickly dispose of the other trails in the area:  The upper half of Grapevine? It's a road through sagebrush. Bracken's Loop? Other than the short piece that gets you to the connector to Church Rocks, you don'wanna ride Bracken's. Yes, it shows a bicycle on the trail sign. Probably placed by someone who hates you. We're talking miles of hike-a-bike in deep sand. Don't be a sucker; don't go there.

Looking east, we're riding below the cliff edge, as the trail winds up and down in rock and dirt.

Now a word for those who want to connect through to other trails. As you leave the Dino Cliffs singletrack heading east, you'll dump south downhill on DT. Go 0.2 miles, then turn hard L as the main dirt road veers R. This is signed as Prospector Trail. Follow it up to the top of the next ridge. There's a T intersection there. R takes you on the shortest route to Prospector, a steep loose switchback plunge to the sandy rocky bottom of the wash. (See description below.)

Same spot, looking west. The Dino Cliffs of Navajo sandstone keep the views interesting.

Most riders should choose to fork L, signed as Bracken's Loop. After 0.1 mile, fork R off Bracken's and descend the hill. This is a much saner rate of descent, and you can easily climb back the same way on your return. At the bottom, turn R on red rock and head east. About 0.1 mile from the wash, you'll reach a subtle fork. Keep L (straight) to enter the Church Rocks Loop. (See below.)

Getting to the western end by bicycle (note: dirt roads may change!)
1.  Get to intersection of Buena Vista and Main in Washington (mile 0.0),
        via Red Hills Pkwy, becomes Buena Vista Blvd in Washington
        vs. Riverside Drive to Washington, R on Buena Vista after freeway
        vs. Telegraph St, North on Main St, straight after going under freeway
2.  North uphill on Main 0.2 miles, go around gate onto gravel road
     N37 08.574 W113 30.583
3.  Fork R at mile 0.5, N37 09.055 W113 30.243
4.  Fork L uphill at mile 1.0, N37 09.314 W113 30.217
5.  Fork R at 1.3, find stepover gate at 1.4, N37 09.333 W113 30.193
     Downhill on sandy trail
Getting to the Grapevine TH by bicycle (note: dirt roads may change!)
1. Get to Buena Vista and Main, as above, but go NE on Buena Vista
2. At 0.3, straight into dirt road, N37 08.541 W113 30.241
    Either fork at 0.4 (suggest L), N37 08.563 W113 30.168
3. At 1.4, go straight past parking, N37 08.981 W113 29.430

Getting to Prospector via Dino Cliffs:  Get to the west end of Dino Cliffs by bicycle as above. Ride the trail eastbound, then join the southbound (downhill) Grapevine DT. 0.2 miles later, fork L (N37 09.426 W113 28.786) as the main DT veers R. The trail will become ST as it descends, then climb to the top of a small hill. At 0.4 miles after the fork, the trail splits at the top of the hill (N37 09.665 W113 28.589). Fork R, then descend steeply. At the bottom of the hill, veer downhill and fight through sand and boulders. The Church Rocks trail will join on your left, then 50 feet later you'll come to a 3-way fork (N37 09.666 W113 28.428). (You're now 0.6 miles from where you forked off Grapevine.) Turn L and ride slightly uphill parallel to the freeway. You're now on the Prospector portion of the Church Rocks Loop. Prospector itself forks off on your R about 1/2 mile later. (I don't suggest using this trail on the way back - it's an ugly climb. Instead, go to the northwest corner of Church Rocks Loop and climb out on the Church Rocks Connector.) See area map.

View from the ridge just before descending to the wash on the Prospector connector trail. The Prospector trail is heading upward from the middle of this photo. 

Getting to the Church Rocks Loop via Dino Cliffs:  Ride your bike to the western end of Dino Cliffs as above. Ride the trail eastbound, then join the southbound (downhill) Grapevine DT. 0.2 miles later, fork L (N37 09.426 W113 28.786) as the main DT veers R. The trail will become ST as it descends, then climb to the top of a small hill. At 0.4 miles after the fork, the trail splits at the top of the hill (N37 09.665 W113 28.589). Fork LEFT here on Bracken's Loop. After 0.1 mile, fork R off of Bracken (N37 09.733 W113 28.621) and begin descending the hill. As you reach open rock in the bottom, veer back east (R) and follow the path on the rock in a slow climb. 0.3 miles after leaving Bracken, and about 100 yards after dipping through the rock wash, a rock pile marks a subtle fork (N37 09.810 W113 28.467). Eastbound (L) is clockwise on Church Rocks. South takes you over the rock ridge (toward Prospector) counterclockwise. See area map.


Eastbound on the rock ramp to connect to Church Rocks.

Riding notes, CC loop from Grapevine:
0.0  DT northeast (uphill parallel to freeway)
       N37 08.981 W113 29.430
0.1  Gate with stepover
       N37 09.029 W113 29.370
0.2  Pass old ST on R (keep straight)
0.4  Gate with stepover
0.9  L on DT (R = Prospector)
       N37 09.426 W113 28.786
1.1  L on ST on rock near top of hill
       N37 09.551 W113 28.819
       Begin Dino Cliffs
1.7  Trail drops to below rock break
2.4  Turn R (old fork)
       N37 09.342 W113 29.806
2.8  Dip washbottom, begin sandy hike
       (vs. ride in-and-out down wash)
2.9  Stepover gate, straight, then L
       N37 09.333 W113 30.193
3.0  L (south) downhill on dirt road
       N37 09.314 W113 30.217
3.3  Keep L (straight)
       N37 09.055 W113 30.243
3.5  Turn L (east)
       N37 08.914 W113 30.255
4.3  Back at parking

Getting there, Grapevine Trailhead:  On I-15 just north of Washington, take exit 13 for Washington Parkway. Turn north on Washington Parkway toward the mountain (left if you're coming from St.G). The road will end immediately after the northern off-ramp. Continue straight onto dirt (note: will change as area develops). 100 yards later, pass through fence and park. N37 08.981 W113 29.430. The ride starts on the dirt road that's to your right as you go through the fence, heading northeast parallel to the freeway.
Bicycling to, or from, this trail? Click the area map link below.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin      GPX
Larger area map, shows connecting trails:  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

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